Thursday, January 13, 2022

Op-ed: Towns with schools need newspapers; without one, their young people's achievements 'are left unsung'

Lloyd Omdahl
Rural newspapers have been closing "left and right" over the past two decades, but it's important to keep them open, especially in communities with schools, according to a column in the Minot Daily News in North Dakota by former lieutenant governor and political-science professor Lloyd Omdahl. One big reason: local newspapers highlight and increase community pride. 

"Much of our community life revolves around the local school. Towns without newspapers still have young people competing in a full array of sports and extracurricular activities. For them, school days leave indelible memories, supported by clippings of their feats from the local newspaper – if there is one. Without the paper, they are left unsung," Omdahl writes. "Every city with a school has youngsters eager to excel and to be encouraged. The local newspaper gives enduring evidence of their efforts. Every town with a school needs a newspaper."

Because newspapers are so important to communities, Omdahl proposed several months ago that city treasuries pitch in some funding. Many editors were skeptical of the notion out of a desire to retain independent from even perceived government influence. But other local governments have invested in their newspapers after recognizing the critical role they fill, Omdahl writes.

"Most of the nostalgics like to think of the days when their home towns had a healthy sense of community. While it is not possible to retreat to earlier days, it seems that communities ought to preserve what is left and find new ways to build a sense of place and belonging," Ohmdal writes. "Many of our communities are surrendering their sense of community without a fight. To conduct this fight, perhaps newspapers may have to become reoriented to the changing demographics and economics by accepting different ways of financing."

No comments: